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Jan 12, 2012 11:21 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bay Street Says Southampton Is Best Option Amid Few Sag Harbor Possibilities

Jan 17, 2012 4:37 PM

Bay Street Theatre’s leadership acknowledged on Thursday night that moving their organization to the soon-to-be empty Parrish Art Museum building in Southampton Village is the most appealing option for them, from a business and operational standpoint.

But from an emotional and personal standpoint, the theater’s executive and artistic directors and several members of its board of trustees each said they would prefer if one of a fleeting few options for keeping the theater in Sag Harbor Village could be made viable.

“Sag Harbor is where we’ve been for 20 years, where our heart is, and where we want to stay,” Artistic Director Murphy Davis said on Thursday night. “If that is feasible.”

At the open community meeting, which theater officials called to discuss various relocation options with the Sag Harbor community, Mr. Davis, Executive Director Tracy Mitchell and Board President Frank Filipo, told those who gathered in the nearly full theater that Bay Street leadership needs to make a decision on where their new home will be within 60 days, a self-imposed deadline agreed upon by the board of trustees.

According to Ms. Mitchell, the theater will have to move out of its current space before the lease ends in May 2013, as the building’s owner, Patrick Malloy, has refused to offer a long-term lease. Operating on only a short-term lease for the past 20 years has cost the theater many grant opportunities, according to Bay Street administrators.

The Thursday night meeting was attended almost exclusively by Bay Street supporters intent on keeping the nearly 300-seat Equity house in Sag Harbor. But, short of someone writing a large check in a hurry, the likelihood of Bay Street remaining in the village is slim under current economic circumstances, according to Mr. Davis.

“If we’re going to stay in Sag Harbor, it is going to require a very large donation from one of our supporters,” he said. “What’s going to keep us here is a consortium of people here who need to step up big-time.”

Though nobody stepped forward with a donation during the meeting, Sag Harbor resident Bill Collage said that he was pleased with the turnout.

“The amount of people here speaks to the community I want to live in,” he said. “I don’t want to be divisive, this is a community of artists and writers, but I think there’s a solution here that can be reached for the greater good of our community.”

Ms. Mitchell expressed that it was her personal desire, and that of the administration, that Bay Street remain in the community it has called home for the past two decades. But, she added, keeping the theater alive was the most important thing.

“Our priority is to stay in Sag Harbor, but bigger than that, our number-one priority is to make sure that Bay Street survives,” she said.

A few of the possible new homes in the village discussed by the Bay Street team, which also included board members Greg Ferraris, Robby Stein and Rob Florio, included a 5-acre abandoned industrial building on Jermain Avenue (where it meets Oakland Avenue), Pierson High School, the Sag Harbor movie theater, the National Grid space that formerly housed the “Blue Ball,” the former Bulova Watchcase Factory space, a property on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike and a lot on Ferry Road.

The idea of using eminent domain to seize the movie theater, which reportedly has a price tag of $12 million, was even suggested by one audience member, but that idea was quickly shot down as “not feasible” by Mr. Stein, who is also on the Sag Harbor Village Board.

In addition to the Parrish Art Museum space in Southampton Village, other possible new homes outside of Sag Harbor were also discussed, including the site of the new Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill and the Gabreski Airport business park in Westhampton.

Most of the options were deemed “non-starters” by Bay Street, but the Pierson and the Jermain Avenue locations in Sag Harbor were met with some enthusiasm by many in attendance.

John Landes, a Sag Harbor resident who has opened his home to several actors featured in Bay Street productions, said that he was keen on hearing more about the idea of a partnership between the school and the theater.

“There’s a lot of synergy there, a lot of potential to be explored,” he said.

The Jermain Avenue property was painted in a positive light by one of the theater’s board members, Jane Holden, and some enthusiastic members of the audience. The property, which contains an abandoned 14,000-square-foot building, poses a number of logistical and financial challenges. Wetlands, uncertain integrity of the ground, zoning conflicts and opposition from neighbors would present substantial hurdles to siting a new theater building there, even if the theater could come up with the more than $8 million that would probably be needed to buy the property and build a new theater on it.

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My guess is that Pat Malloy is kicking them out to retake the space and use it to store all of the extra American Hotel china, crystal, toys and liquor that he uses on his mammoth battleship kept at the town dock. Malloy gives ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to Sag Harbor. He'll never be described as being a warm and fuzzy individual. Bay Street being forced to leave is sad!
By SagHarborBob (91), Life is Good in Sag Harbor on Jan 13, 12 6:20 AM
2 members liked this comment
I hear he is leasing to COACH, the leather goods store.
By concerned east ender (49), Sag Harbor on Jan 15, 12 7:44 AM
WOW Bay St will be a wonderful addition to the village now that the space was empited as the museum stooped the village. It will be great going there for shows. Does the artwork that was benefacted to the museum stay there? I was wondering as I thought that Parrish gave it to set up a Village Museum. Now that the museum defected I was wondering if they are still entitled to the art?
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Jan 13, 12 6:37 AM
2 members liked this comment
Samuel Parrish's collection stays with the building as both were given to the village, not to a museum entity. The Chase collection was given to the Parrish Art Museum by Mrs Littlejohn, who had been its president for many years. She never dreamed a future board would ever move the museum that she essentially raised from the ashes - it had been closed - and worked so hard to grow into a healthy organization, so she did not think she had to stipulate that her gift stay in the building she loved so ...more
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Jan 13, 12 11:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
It looks like a great solution for the Village and Bay Street...sorry, Jobs Lane Theater ...:))
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Jan 13, 12 7:11 AM
I was told by a member of the museum that Mr. Parrish's collection is intact and belongs to the village building, aka The Parrish Art Museum. I am not aware that the persent trustes of the Parrish can take the name of the building with them. If that is the case legally then it should present quite a tussel.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Jan 13, 12 7:44 AM
2 members liked this comment
oops i meant 'present'
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Jan 13, 12 7:48 AM
The Parish would be a wonderful place for Bay Street. I understand it would be a difficult move after 20 years in Sag Harbor, but we'd be very happy in SH!
By AFB (31), NYC/SH on Jan 13, 12 9:35 AM
oops, I meant "Parrish"!
By AFB (31), NYC/SH on Jan 13, 12 9:40 AM
The Bay Street crew's attachment to Sag Harbor is understandable, but it really is only 20 years, not exactly a lifetime. I even remember that wonderful first production of 'Men's Lives' so it can't be that far back. More importantly, Bay Street needs a home and the old Parrish building needs a vital occupant . Cool site, cool operation -- match made in heaven. Consider, too, that Southampton is much more centrally located than Sag Harbor. As a subscriber from the West end of town, I warmly ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jan 13, 12 11:44 AM
2 members liked this comment
Bay Street was one of the best laid out small theatres around. Great viewing from all seating. The presidential debates on the big screen 3 years ago were a plus. Too bad it can't stay somewhere in the harbor.
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on Jan 13, 12 4:54 PM
perhaps Bay Street Theatre can do for Southampton Village what the movie theatre as done to East Hampton, ie., provide much more foot traffic and diners, etc. so the Village is again alive.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Jan 13, 12 6:36 PM
Very good point Ms.X...A theater would very much liven up the place...Although a nice coat of red coulb be fun too...Don't the movies in SH stink too...
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Jan 13, 12 7:54 PM
If this wonderful theater didn't thrive in Sag Harbor, which has a lot of foot traffic - especially in summer - what makes you think it will survive in Southampton? The theater has to fill seats. People love the idea of a small equity theater but how many purchase season tickets?

Do you honestly think it will be different in Southampton? I hope so but am not convinced.
By concerned east ender (49), Sag Harbor on Jan 15, 12 7:50 AM
No doubt about it. Those of us on the west side of town would find it much easier to patronize the theatre if it was located in the Village.
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Jan 15, 12 8:47 AM
Isnt' this the same guy who sued the Village over the marina about fifteen years ago?

Not only that, but isn't he also on the board of a company that's sacrificing natural gas exploration, and production in lieu of drilling for oil?

I guess he would hate my ideas on algal biodiesel...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 15, 12 9:28 AM

Bay Street Theatre will never succeed under their two creative Directors Murphy Davis and Cybill will never be successful because they have no knowledge of creating a product to appeal to the summer crowd from which they largely get approximately 50% of their revenues, resulting in chronically bad budget shortfalls.

Their self indulgent plays that fail to create any excitement results in empty seats in the middle of the crucial summer season, which doesn't help in fund raising either. ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Jan 16, 12 10:23 AM
Southampton could draw a few big names, like a stand up comedy series, or some Guild Hall style productions which would yield local community involvement. It could be a huge plus for SHV, but it's sad that Mr. Malloy only sees a property to be exploited for profit.

Maybe the village should deny his application for his "boat" slip. Oh, no, wait, then he'd sue them. Again...
Jan 16, 12 6:22 PM appended by Mr. Z
''If I were a taxpayer I would look at the positives, what I've created,'' he said. ''Everything I've done has been good for the village. I'm trying to protect the basic rights we have as private property owners.'' ~ Patrick E. Malloy III (1997)
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 16, 12 6:22 PM
Oh my, so hard to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, and cruise ship tipped over in Italy. RIP victims.

Parrish Art Museum (PAM) moving to Largest Billboard for Excess in New England.

Bay Street Theater to move to PAM site on Jobs Lane?

Money money money.

Greed greed greed.

Fiddle fiddle fiddle.

You can't make this stuff up!
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on Jan 16, 12 7:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Bay St has clearly already made up their mind to move to Parish in SHV, as demonstrated by the self-imposed 60 day deadline. The (old) PAM space is ideal in every way - and it is the ONLY option that can be completely vetted/agreed between the parties within 2 months. All the talk of alternatives and hopes to stay in SHV is just to keep the locals thinking they're being listened to. Bay St is a nice space (and its 10 mins from me) but PAM will better position the company to thrive going forward. ...more
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Jan 17, 12 4:11 PM
that second SHV is Sag Harbor Village, v. SHampton...
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Jan 17, 12 4:12 PM
All things must evolve.

Specialization = extinction ; diversity = survival

Though it is sad that some goof things disappear, it is an even sadder state of things when better things succumb to greed, and avarice.
Jan 17, 12 10:48 PM appended by Mr. Z
Sorry, "good", not "goof". Holy Freudian slip, Batman!!
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 17, 12 10:48 PM
"Bay Street at The Parrish"...I like the sound. Two great communities coming together in an affordable venue that will allow Bay Street to do the performances that they've dreamed of doing for many years. There's a ton of parking behind the theater and you can't be the rent! That keeps it affordable for their audience and that's what keeps a theater alive and well. I wish them well and I welcome them to our Village with open arms!
By Dodger (161), Southampton Village on Jan 18, 12 4:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
There are many pluses to the move. The auditorium in The Parrish Art Museum needs fo be improved. new seating, new backstage etc. All could be done next winter and be open for a great 2013 season. Meanwhile a few shows,could be mounted for a limited 2012 summer season.
Mr. Paarrish wanted the place to be used for culteral improvement any way. I see an inviting show of art in the first room leading to a newly remodled auditorium in the back.
Please tell me they cannot take the name away ...more
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Jan 20, 12 12:40 PM
I wish for Bay Street the very best of luck in their new home, wherever it may be (hopefully, the Parrish building :)

Speaking of the Parrish Museum...Good riddance to the Parrish! A stuffy, smug little museum with dull, esoteric exhibitions and a closed, elitist view of the visual arts.
By elliot (254), sag harbor on Jan 22, 12 10:54 PM
Sounde like a self-portrait.
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Jan 24, 12 4:38 PM